So I was poking around the blog-verse and I happened across this blog about a guy in med school. In his most recent post, he responded to someone’s query about why he would identify himself as being gay. I have to honestly say that I was very impressed with is reply (which I suggest you read), and it really got me thinking about the entire concept of being “out” and my own story on coming out, which most of you may not know.
I knew I was gay from early on. Rather, I knew I was incredibly different from almost all the other boys at St. Frances Cabrini grammar school: I was slightly less athletic than Stephen Hawkings, I had no interest in cars or sports, and I had the distinct impression that I wasn’t looking at what they were, while thumbing through XXX porn mags in the school yard (to this day I’m flummoxed at what straight guys find enthralling about bright pink vaginas and huge pendulous breasts). I was most definitely an outcast. By HS I’d figured it out, and began fooling around (as boys are wont to do) with a fellow Boy Scout (oh the merit badges I should’ve earned). It all seemed to click. a terribly self-aware kid, I knew what to call myself; what label to use. By the end of HS, after a couple of awkward and ridiculous dates with girl friends, I was well aware that it wasn’t “a phase”. I also knew who I could talk to and who I couldn’t. thus began the slow process of coming out.
The 1st person I told was a very good friend (who happened to be the girlfriend of my best friend at the time). She was extremely supportive and really wonderful about it. She neither judgmental nor aloof, and for that I can’t thank her enough. At my urging, she didn’t tell her boyfriend. Ironically he was the one friend who I wanted to be the last to know. Despite how very close we were, I feared his reaction almost as much as I feared my parents. Sadly my fears were confirmed, he (and a couple of others) couldn’t quite handle it and we drifted apart. Thankfully, though, my other friends were just as supportive and wonderful as the 1st person I told and really helped me navigate through my “Gay adolescence”. I’m lucky enough to still be friends with most of them, today. it also taught me to be selective with friendships; you need to know the person intimately before you can truly call them your friend.
By college, I was determined to start with a clean slate and was very up-front about being gay when making friends. I was of the mind that, I’m Okay and if you don’t like it, we don’t need to be friends. Again, I was very lucky, because it allowed me to become friends with some truly wonderful people (with whom I’m still very close). My friends were very encouraging and provided solace from (what I considered) a family life that would be the complete opposite. With the help of MS and Nil (whom I’d known since HS), Jenn and other friends, I really was able to grow and thrive. Jenn introduced me to her cousin, with whom I went to my 1st gay bar/club. He introduced me to other gay men and lesbians, most of whom were “out”. I learned how important it was to be true to yourself and not hide. I also learned that I…we…were okay; normal. It’s a lesson I had to keep in the back of my mind when I eventually came out to my parents.
My mom actually confronted me, while I was in college, about her suspicions. Leading a double life (flaming faggot outside the house, and smoldering teenager inside) left me sullen and snarky when I was home. I was tight-lipped and evasive, thinking that if I didn’t tell them what I was doing when I went out, then technically I wasn’t lying. I also figured that if I was a big enough jerk, they really wouldn’t care. I was wrong. Mom was so concerned (since I I was such a mama’s boy for the 1st 16 years of my life) that she had a mini-intervention (asking if I was either ill, on drugs, or in some sort of trouble); when I denied all three, she finally came out and asked if I was gay. I told her I was, and she was quite relieved. I made her swear not to tell my dad, and she kept her promise for about 5 years. Over that time I tried many times to talk to him, at her urging, knowing it was the right thing to do, to no avail. It was just too difficult. I was so scared of being kicked out, hit or incurring his incredible disapproval. Finally one night, I did what I couldn’t put off: I dropped the bomb and ran (literally, since John was waiting outside for me). the next day we had a sit down where he told me he loved me but he wanted me to leave “the gay thing” at the door when I was home. I told him I couldn’t/wouldn’t and that I’d been doing that for the last 20 years; that the point of coming out was that I wouldn’t leave it at the door anymore. With my mom’s help, he came around.
Coming out, at least to me, is a daily process. It’s about waking up, every day, and telling yourself and anyone else that you’re ok; that your life matters and you’re not going to “leave it at the door”. Being gay isn’t the only part of life, but it is a central one. it colors how we see the world and even how we want the world to see us. it’s about showing people that we’re just as f-cked up and normal as they are. It’s also about not running from the truth or hiding behind switched pronouns. It’s about honesty: with yourself and with other people. In this day and age, there’s really no reason to lie anymore, ‘cause even if you omit the truth, it’s still a lie.
"You're Marvin Gay! And let me tell you, there ain't no closet big enough"~ Will and Grace (Jack)